By Michael Bunch

So dear readers, I have been asked by my loving girlfriend to do some research on available leave for workers. I thought others could benefit from my research so I decided to post my findings here. According to the Labor Law Center website, The Family Medical Leave Act, the predecessor to Families First Coronavirus Act, was passed in 1993 largely to combat the trend of women losing their jobs when they became pregnant. Employers would simply fire the woman in question and replace them if they so chose without penalty before this. It has been very successful in keeping that from happening over the years since. It also covers individuals who have to care for anyone who is sick or injured for any legitimate reason. The U.S. Department of Labor says that 12% or so of employees use the protection of the Family Medical Leave Act each year and that only 2-3% of those cases are fraudulent. This was of course before CoVid-19.

This would seem to apply to Covid-19 because it has put many out of work, as well as closed the schools so many children need care at home, especially younger children, such as my girlfriends daughter. Indeed, the new stimulus bill that recently passed Congress and became law, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act has expanded the coverage of the FMLA act until the quarantines are lifted presumably.

  • If an individual worker becomes ill with Coronavirus like symptoms or is quarantined due to these symptoms, they are entitled to 80 hours of paid sick leave at their normal pay rate, which employers can then claim on their 2020 taxes as a tax credit.
  • If that individual has to care for someone who has been quarantined or is sick they are eligible for 80 hours paid leave at 2/3 their normal rate, which also would be reimbursed from the government via tax credits to the employer.
  • If the individual has to care for children who’s schools have closed due to the state quarantine, they are also entitled to 2/3 their normal rate of pay for 80 hours and up to an additional extra 10 weeks pay at that rate (I am assuming depending on the length of the quarantine).

The red herring here is that employers who have less than 50 employees may not have to pay the paid leave if it would put them out of business to do so. According to the National Law Review site, an employer would need to meet these three criteria to not grant said leave.

  • The employer has fewer than 50 people.
  • The request is due to a school closure only.
  • One of the following reasons:
    • 1) the costs of paying the leave would cause the business in question to have costs exceeding revenues,
    • 2) the absence of the employee would cause a substantial risk to the business’s financial viability,
    • 3) there are not sufficient workers to replace said employee under current labor market conditions.

In summation, the Family Medical Leave Act and Families First Coronavirus Response Act should help us weather the storm of Covid-19. Many Americans will qualify for these benefits. I imagine there are quite a few people out there who may not be aware of these benefits. I would recommend this article of course to them, but there area a plethora of resources out there to help. I hope you enjoyed the article and DFTBA!

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